Campaign case study: NHS Wales staff champion health

Public Health Wales wanted to improve the personal health of its NHS Wales staff, patients, and the wider community, across five lifestyle behaviour areas: drinking safely, taking regular exercise, eating five or more fruit and vegetables a day, stopping smoking, and working towards a healthy weight. It decided to run a six-week campaign to recruit 1,000 members of staff to act as advocates to drive healthy behaviour. Each person would be asked to select two areas to focus on over a six-month period from 1 October.

Health kick: Welsh sports stars such as rugby player Jamie Roberts supported the campaign
Health kick: Welsh sports stars such as rugby player Jamie Roberts supported the campaign

Campaign Champions for Health
Client        Public Health Wales
PR team    In-house
Timescale August-October 2012
Budget      £7,500

• To recruit 1,000 advocates out of the 80,000 workforce, from frontline nurses and doctors to facility staff, administrators, management and executives

• To engage employees from all 11 organisations, across all areas of Wales and in two languages

• To encourage employees to improve their personal health

Strategy and plan
Public Health Wales timed the start of the recruitment process with the London 2012 Oly­mpic Games to use the excitement and buzz from the event to engage staff. It opened online registration channels on 15 August 2012 using the strapline: ‘Passing the baton to NHS Wales Staff’.

The organisation created an online rec­ruitment page, which described the campaign, highlighted its aims and benefits, and explained how staff could sign up to it, knowing that communicating a cap of 1,000 spaces would create a sense of urgency. 

The Champions for Health brand was dev­eloped, with a campaign mascot called Will Power, supported by a Twitter acc­ount to drive engagement and recruitment, plus bi-weekly emails to participants.

The campaign kicked off with an event in Cardiff. Welsh rugby stars, boxing champions and Olympic athletes helped to support the overall activity. Key contacts within each part of NHS Wales were directly engaged and encouraged to advertise the campaign among staff.

Personal case studies of people from the 11 organisations that had already signed up to the scheme were showcased to enc­ourage further engagement, while the benefits of the lifestyle changes were widely promoted, using the messaging: ‘A healthier you means a healthier Wales’.

Measurement and evaluation
Champions for Health briefed and eng­aged media outlets in the lead-up to the launch event, and gained national and reg­ional coverage, including on BBC Radio Wales, ITV, BBC Online and the Western Mail. Regional papers across Wales covered the activity, from the South Wales Echo and the South Wales Evening Post to the South Wales Argus and the Wrexham Leader, as did ten other local papers and weeklies. Professional title Independent Nurse also covered the campaign.

By the campaign’s closing date, 1,695 NHS Wales staff members had registered on the Champions for Health website to take part in the scheme, with 1,323 participants going on to select their two lifestyle behaviour challenges and take on the six-month challenge.

Second Opinion

Holly Sutton, director, Journalista

As the UK’s biggest employer, it is imperative that the NHS actively looks to improve the health of its own staff before advocating that other employers do the same. Lifestyle changes are hard to maintain and peer support is crucial, so creating a shared start and end date can help people support one another.

The first stage exceeded its objective of recruiting 1,000 people and the challenge from here is maintaining motivation.

As this pilot is just a tiny percentage of the workforce, spread across various organisations, the group has to rely on a virtual rather than a physical support network. Information on Twitter and forum engagement is required to judge whether these tactics created an effective virtual network. Mechanisms such as bi-weekly newsletters quickly become redundant unless supported by shared goal-setting and peer evaluation on social media.

Central to this campaign’s success should be specific health goals, and data on whether staff met these is the only real measure of this initiative.

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